Doing gender and development: understanding empowerment and local gender relations
A major dilemma in Gender and Development (GAD) work is why it is that sometimes women may feel better off colluding with gendered structures that ensure their continued subordination rather than seeking approaches that will allow them to break free of this. Kandiyoti (1988Gender and Society 2 274–90) has identified this apparent collusion as ‘patriarchal bargains’, which offer women greater advantages than they perceive can be achieved by challenging the prevailing order. Such women are therefore reluctant to engage in empowering activities that may challenge their gendered bargain. This paper explains this dilemma in the context of GAD work undertaken with Bedouin women in Southern Egypt.